The Tempest Character and Theme Quotes

William Shakespeare

Essential Passage by Character: Caliban

MIRANDA:
Abhorrèd slave,
Which any print of goodness wilt not take,
Being capable of all ill! I pitied thee,
Took pains to make thee speak, taught thee each hour
One thing or other. When thou didst not, savage,
Know thine own meaning, but wouldst gabble like
A thing most brutish, I endowed thy purposes
With words that made them known. But thy vile race,
Though thou didst learn, had that in't which good natures
Could not abide to be with; therefore wast thou
Deservedly confined into this rock,
Who hadst deserved more than a prison.
CALIBAN:
You taught me language, and my profit on't
Is I know how to curse. The red plague rid you
For learning me your language!
Act 1, Scene 2, Lines 417-431

Summary

Causing the storm to take advantage of the fate that has brought within his grasp, Prospero explains his past history to his daughter Miranda. She remembers little, since she was only three when their banishment occurred. Since that time, the only beings she has seen are her father, spirits such as Ariel, and the half-breed monster, Caliban, who functions as their slave. Causing Miranda to fall asleep, Prospero summons Ariel to determine the locations of the passengers of the ship. Assured by the spirit that all is well and all prisoners are accounted for and separated, Prospero commands him to bring Ferdinand to the cave where they humans are living.

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(The entire section is 1138 words.)

Essential Passage by Character: Prospero

PROSPERO:
My brother and thy uncle, called Antonio—
I pray thee mark me, that a brother should
Be so perfidious—he whom next thyself
Of all the world I loved, and to him put
The manage of my state; as at that time
Through all the signories it was the first,
And Prospero the prime duke, being so reputed
In dignity, and for the liberal arts
Without a parallel; those being all my study,
The government I cast upon my brother,
And to my state grew stranger, being transported
And rapt in secret studies. Thy false uncle—
Dost thou attend me?
MIRANDA:
Sir, most heedfully.
PROSPERO:
Being once perfected how to grant suits,
How to deny them, who t'advance and who
To trash for over-topping, new created
The creatures that were mine, I say, or changed ’em,
Or else new formed ’em; having both the key
Of officer and office, set all hearts i'th’ state
To what tune pleased his ear, that now he was
The ivy which had hid my princely trunk,
And sucked my verdure out on't. Thou attend'st not!
MIRANDA:
O good sir, I do.
PROSPERO:
I pray thee mark me.
I, thus neglecting worldly ends, all dedicated
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(The entire section is 1450 words.)

Essential Passage by Theme: Humanity

PROSPERO:
[to Miranda] The fringèd curtains of thine eye advance
And say what thou seest yond.
MIRANDA:
What is't? A spirit?
Lord, how it looks about! Believe me, sir,
It carries a brave form. But ’tis a spirit.
PROSPERO:
No, wench, it eats and sleeps, and hath such senses
As we have, such. This gallant which thou seest
Was in the wreck, and but he's something stained
With grief, that's beauty's canker, thou mightest call him
A goodly person. He hath lost his fellows,
And strays about to find ’em
MIRANDA:
I might call him
A thing divine, for nothing natural
I ever saw so noble.
PROSPERO:
[Aside] It goes on, I see,
As my soul prompts it. [to Ariel] Spirit, fine spirit, I—II free
thee
Within two days for this.
FERDINAND:
[Aside] Most sure, the goddess
On whom these airs attend! [to Miranda] Vouchsafe my
prayer
May know if you remain upon this island,
And that you will some good instruction give
How I my bear me here. My prime request,
Which I do last pronounce, is—O you wonder!—
If you be maid or...

(The entire section is 1273 words.)